Indonesia, Singapore Agree Extradition Treaty

SINGAPORE ~ Singapore and Indonesia have agreed on an extradition treaty that Jakarta hopes will boost its fight against corruption, the foreign ministers of both nations said.

The accord, which Jakarta considers vital in its pursuit of suspects wanted in Indonesia for corruption, was to be signed on Friday in Bali, a joint statement said.

Lawmakers in Jakarta have said the city-state is used by Indonesian criminals to launder money – an allegation Singapore has denied.

Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo and Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda would sign the pact in the ceremonies to be witnessed by their respective leaders, the statement said.

The defense ministers of both countries were to sign a defense cooperation agreement that had been negotiated in parallel with the extradition pact.

“The talks were characterized by a high degree of cooperation, friendship, flexibility and goodwill,” Yeo told reporters at a late-night news conference on Monday.

“Goodwill is in ample supply on both sides, so we were able to reach a good agreement for both the extradition treaty and defense cooperation.”

Wirayuda said: “We strongly believe that the conclusions of these two agreements would strongly contribute in our joint efforts to strengthen our bilateral relations.”

Journalists had been summoned to a news conference in the early evening, but the ministers emerged only late into the night, with aides saying talks were still ongoing.

Yeo told the news conference that Indonesian senior officials had arrived here on Sunday and negotiated “all night” with their Singaporean counterparts.

Wirayuda and Indonesian Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono arrived on Monday morning and took over the negotiations, he added.

Yeo said more details on the two agreements were expected to be released on Friday.

The joint statement said that the ministers and armed forces chiefs endorsed the text of the extradition and defense cooperation agreements drafted by their respective negotiating panels.

Negotiations for the extradition treaty started in 2005.

Indonesian officials have said that a number of suspects, including former officials and businessmen, are alleged to have fled Singapore and put their money in banks and other investments in the affluent island nation.

Singapore, a regional financial centre, has denied the allegations and insisted it has enough safeguards to prevent the country from becoming a magnet for laundered funds.

Some officials in Jakarta had accused Singapore of delaying the signing of the extradition accord.

In January, Indonesia abruptly banned the export of land sand used to make concrete, a move that is hurting contractors in Singapore’s booming building and construction industry.

Although it was not included in the sand ban, Indonesian authorities also detained several barges carrying granite to Singapore, effectively disrupting supplies of the material also used to make concrete.

Jakarta’s official line was that the sand ban was imposed to stop the destruction of the environment caused by sand quarrying.

However, some senior Indonesian officials have been quoted in the media as saying the ban was carried out to force Singapore to sign the extradition treaty.

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